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Kime Ranch to receive Pioneer Award

By Jordan Huether

The Kime Ranch, located 36 miles southeast of Gordon in Cherry County, recently joined the elite few area ranches to celebrate 100 years of family ownership. One of the perks of reaching the centennial mark, besides a lot of bragging rights, is the AK-SAR-BEN Pioneer Award. Since its inception 60 years ago, more than 8,000 families have been granted this award from across the region. Each honoree receives an engraved plaque and gatepost marker as permanent recognition of the milestone. The Kime Ranch will receive their awards during the Saturday performance of the Sheridan County Rodeo.

As with every story, we must start at the beginning. Thankfully, the Kime family took the time to sit down and document some of their first memories of moving up to their new home. Much of what follows was included in a memoir by Archie Kime, Clyde and Maude’s second oldest child. It all started in late 1912 when Clyde Kime left his ranch north of Mullen in search of new land. He rode 34 miles before he found the perfect place to call home. He immediately rode on to Rushville to file on the land, only to be told that Mr. McDonald had filed on the land only hours before him. Upon hearing the news, he decided to file on the land directly to the east of his first choice. The land was officially purchased on January 8, 1913 from part of the Wyoming Cattle Company for $5,500, $8.59 per acre.

Clyde immediately went to work building a barn on the property using 1x12 boards. This barn would be the Kime family’s home until they could build a proper house. Before Clyde could return to his family in Mullen, he got caught in the March blizzard of 1913, which kept him holed in for “quite a while.” It is said that the neighboring Metzgers lost 50 head of two year old steers from the blizzard after they wandered into the swamp and lost their feet.

According to Archie Kime, who was five years old during the move, the family began the journey to their new home as soon as the weather cleared up. Clyde drove a freight wagon with four head of horses hitched to it while his wife, Maude, pregnant with her fourth child, drove a buggy with another two horses and “the ole milk cow” hitched to the back. Archie rode the family’s other horse, Old Paint, on the journey.

As was the case with just about any cross country journey those days, the Kimes had their fair share of problems. One such story, as told by Archie, involves spending a day rounding up a spooked horse. “We were a goin’ along and I was riding on Old Paint, and I rode up beside Old Good Eye on her blind side. When I got far enough up for her to see me, it scared her and she just flew back. She turned her butt out over the tug and skinned the harness off. All she had left on her was the bridle and away she went! There wasn’t no fences around there in them days. Dad took Ole Dan the saddle horse and tried to round up Good Eye. I don’t remember how he got her, but he finally got her captured. It took half a day to catch her.”

Another issue arose when they got just west of Metzgers’ and had to cross Gordon Creek. As they drove the wagon across, a wheel hit a rat run and the wagon tipped over, spilling jars and other goods from the shelves inside.

When the Kimes finally reached their destination, the sun was just coming up over the horizon of their new land and they were exhausted. They unloaded their beds into the barn and went to sleep. Archie remembered that first day in the barn well. “It had cracks in the roof and everyplace else. It started to rain and was raining as much inside as it was outside. We had to live in the barn until we built a house, so we began unpacking.”

They woke to find their work horses and cow long gone. “We’d put the work horses and the cow in the meadow,” Archie remembered. “And there were no fences anywhere. Ole Dan was on a picket rope, so dad saddled him up and went to look for the cow and horses. He didn’t come home all day long and mom she worried somethin’ fierce about him. He finally got in about 11 o’clock at night. I don’t know where he found the horses, but the ole milk cow had gone clear back to Metzgers.”

When they first arrived, the entire valley was nothing but a prairie dog town, so Clyde set to work plowing a garden to grow some vegetables. Story has it that he killed 25 rattlesnakes while plowing that patch of ground.

Once they were settled, the Kimes set to work building a house with the help of Stalb, a carpenter. By that winter the first part of the house was fully enclosed. In 1934 they bought Homer Butts’ home a couple miles across the valley. Clyde took the bed off his wagon, put logs under the Butts house and moved it two miles across the valley with a team of eight horses. A few years later, holes were cut in each of the two houses and they were pushed together.

You couldn’t raise very many cattle in the sandhills at that time, at least not enough to make a living. Clyde had 640 acres and just one milk cow. His primary profession during World War I was raising horses and selling them to the government up at Fort Robinson. According to Clyde’s grandson, Steve, the government used to send out government studs and give them to you to raise if you had brood mares. Clyde would then raise the saddle horses for the soldiers. “They would come out to the ranch and have you ride ‘em for ‘em, and then they’d take ‘em up and quarantine ‘em for a couple months, feed ‘em lots of oats, and a lot of them would buck the soldiers off because they about needed re-broke after the quarantine was over with,” Steve said.

On October 27, 1916, Clyde was named postmaster of the Lund Post Office. Lund never officially received a zip code, but it is listed on the last four Kime children’s birth certificates. The post office was run out of a room at the Kime home. Neighbors would stop by three days a week to pick up their mail, and often stay for supper, keeping Maude quite busy. Archie guessed that at one time there were 18 people picking up their mail at the house. The post office remained at the ranch until July 31, 1930.

In 1917, the Kime home bought a one-wire hand crank telephone. It was the only telephone in the area, so it was often used by area families to stay in contact with loved ones. Another valuable resource that brought neighbors over on a regular basis was the ice house. The Kime Ranch had one of the only ice houses in the area, which was a hole in the ground about 12 feet square and 12 feet deep. Ice would be harvested from a nearby lake and stored in the hole, encased in straw. The straw provided enough insulation to keep the ice frozen through the summer. Clyde also kept barrels of kerosene on hand to sell to neighbors for their lamps, as well as a few barrels of gasoline for those few with automobiles in those days.

Over the years, the Kime Ranch has been home to many Fourth of July celebrations, baseball games, and barn dances. It has served as a fueling station, an ice house, a telephone office and even a post office. It has also been an open door to any neighbor looking for a home-cooked meal, or even a little work. The ranch is now owned by cousins Steve and Don, both grandsons of Clyde and Maude, and while they enjoy looking back on the last 100 years of their family’s history, they are hopeful to keep it going for another hundred years.

© Sheridan County Journal Star 2017